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WHO Says Only 3% Of World’s Cancer Treatment Facilities Is In Africa 

WHO Says Only 3% Of World’s Cancer Treatment Facilities Is In Africa 


Princess-Ekwi Ajide Abuja


World Health Organization, WHO, says of the more than 400,000 children diagnosed annually with cancer around the world, about 90% live in low- and middle-income countries thereby, keeping survival rates at a very low 20% or less in African countries, compared to more than 80% in developed countries.


Unfortunately, every year, Africa records around 1.1 million new cases of cancer, which breast cancer, cervical, prostate, liver and colorectal cancers, account for almost half the new cases on the continent annually; resulting in up to 700,000 deaths.


In a speech to mark the International Cancer Week, for this year with the theme, “Bridging the Cancer Care Gap: Improving Diagnosis and Multidisciplinary Management”, WHO Country Representative, Dr Walter Mulombo, said, Africa has only 3% of the world’s cancer treatment facilities, with radiotherapy available in just 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which contributes to poor survival rates.


He counted the challenges faced in the region to include limited access to primary prevention and early detection services, lack of awareness and education in addition to delays in diagnosis and treatment as well as limited access to palliative care and pain relief, shortages of specialists in medical and radiation oncology, pathology, medical physics and other essential areas which compound the gaps.


Dr. Mulombo emphasised a renewed effort to curb new cancer cases is urgent; as there are alarming projections that cancer death rates in Africa will rise exponentially over the next 20 years, exceeding the global average by 30%.


He said WHO took a number of steps to close the care gap by supporting a number of key initiatives in countries including cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative, the Global Breast Cancer Initiative, the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancers among others.


Accordingto him, in the African region, 45% of countries introduced national HPV vaccination programmes and the WHO is committed to supporting the country implement priority activities towards cancer prevention and control.


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